A story by Jochrine Kunda
The beginning of another year and the sun had set when I walked home alone with my half empty bucket of fritters while the other girls who were in groups had emptied theirs and I envied them, I had second thoughts about going home because I imagined the torture I’d receive from grandma for not emptying the bucket so I walked home slowly wishing my life was different from the way it was.
I was born with HIV/AIDS and lost both parents to the same disease at the age of 3, living with grandma (who happens to be dad’s step mom) and her two granddaughters Mary and Kabwe hasn’t been any easy. They’ve alarmed the whole community about my disease and everyone always points fingers at me, I’ve tried my very best to adapt to that treatment but it doesn’t work coz everyday is different, new hurtful words are said to me everyday both directly and indirectly, it was like people in the community fed on my tears. I hated myself for it but there was nothing I could about it and ending my life was the last thing on my mind.
I put every effort in my education to even drop out in Grade 9 because what I under went in my school days is even worse than hell but I endured it all until grandma finally gave up on paying for my school fees and decided on marrying me off to Ba Bwalya, a charcoal burner who was exactly twice my age since it was known that we had the same status, he was in search of a second wife to bear him a male child coz he never had one and grandma thought I was the perfect candidate so he always brought her gifts when he came to the house and his wife always harassed me whenever we crossed paths.
I finally got home and heard a familiar hoarse voice then I immediately knew that it was Ba Bwalya and I felt my insides turn so I slowly got in praying that I’d have my peace
He said excitedly
I greeted them both and didn’t wait for them to even reply as I attempted to walk away but was stopped by grandma
“Your soon to be husband is here and you’re pretending as if you haven’t seen him, these kids of nowadays are really something else”
Grandma said trying to maintain a smile
“Come on and sit next to him”
She continued and she took the bucket away from me leading me to take a seat, she took the money I sold for fritters that day and told me to be a goof girl then she winked at me and walked out. The figure next to me was speaking but I wasn’t interested in what he said until he started touching me in inappropriate areas then I yelled at him to stop and he covered my mouth but I managed to get away and went out screaming then grandma came out wearing an angry face and was ready to hit me until I heard a voice.
Twenty years of age, dark skinned, size 28, long curly hair
A mother’s lessons, as old fashioned as they seem but it’s worth following them because they’re for the best. Raising a child on your own while knowing fully well that the father is somewhere in the world enjoying himself is a bitter pill to swallow. Being mom’s only child she had high hopes in me and trusted me to the fullest until I dropped out of school in Grade 9 when I fell pregnant, I called Mwelwa who was my Science teacher and told him about my pregnancy but he told me to stay away from him and his family then I sank to the floor as I remembered the times I’d leave school and even jump over the school’s wall fence just to be with him and he rejected me after putting my education at stake so my only option was to abort the pregnancy but my Heavensent best friend talked me out of it so I carried it to full term and gave birth to my now 3 year old princess who’s fond of my best friend since she’s her godmother.
I had just come from taking a bath when my phone rang and the number wasn’t saved so I hesitantly picked it up
I instantly recognized it as Mwelwa’s
Me: what do you want?
Mwelwa: baby, can we meet up? I really need to discuss something important with you and see my little princess
Me: the one you rejected
Mwelwa: baby please
Me: I’ve got nothing to say to you
I hang up and curled myself in a ball remembering what I went through alone and decided to go and see my best friend coz I really needed to speak to her. I got dressed in black ripped jeans, pink vest, black pumps then strapped my baby on my back and started off.
Twenty three year old, yellow bone, size 25, short blonde hair
I was so glad that the week was over and I’d finally relax, I thought of my brother Justin who was the son to dad’s young brother. Mom is British and dad is Zambian who is a feared drug lord and gang leader that he even located to Italy, being their only son has made them love me like nothing else while others think I’m spoiled. Mom still calls me her baby so I thought I’d be over spoiled and decided to leave them to come for the school holidays back home and met with my cousin Justin who I became so fond of that I didn’t want to go back to my parents so dad innovated grandma’s house and I began with my grade 8 but later did my Varsity in the United States along with Justin and studied law coz dad wanted me to be part of the business so Justin is a twin brother to me. We’re gangsters who hide in white collar jobs just like dad but for us we’re only involved in gun smuggling and money laundering
I picked up my phone to call Justin so he could come over to my house and just have an ice cold drink while we were our usual self until someone snatched my phone from behind and I turned only to find Grace, my fiancée
Me: and then?
Grace: I want you to take me out, it’s been quite long since I spent time with you
Me: I’m sorry babe u can’t, I really need to rest coz the week was quite exhausting
Grace: you tend to forget that I’m your fiancée, I go to day spa’s alone, do my shopping alone and you never return home sometimes because of your business trips, don’t you think that’s too much for me to handle?
Me: alright, I understand so can I just have my rest today and I’ll be with you this whole week?
She rolled her eyes
Grace: can I have your card? I need to do my shopping
Me: but I just gave you my card last week
Grace: ARE YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT YOUR MONEY NOW? SO YOU’VE FOUND SOME GIRL YOU’RE SPENDING ON AND I SWEAR I’LL KILL THE BOTH OF YOU
She rushed to the bedroom and banged the door which meant I’d have to shower her with gifts in order for her to forgive me but I was too drained to do that so I let her be and sat on the couch where I proceeded my call with my brother
“The begging begins, women are just a total different species altogether”
I said as I roughly rubbed my head
Twenty eight years of age, coloured skin, tall, slim
Meet Thomas Musonda Smith
STORY STARTS HERE
*** I closed my eyes expecting the worst when grandma held a cooking stick in her hands ready to hit me with it until I heard a voice speak
Voice: LEAVE HER ALONE
I turned and found Veronica who wore an angry face, she was my best friend but I considered her as a sister coz we’d been through a lot together, her mom and grandma were friends so she listened to her and dropped her weapon then she turned to her with a smile
Grandma: you’re welcome my daughter, how are you?
Veronica: I’m okay Ma bu….
she interrupted her
Grandma: how’s your mom?
Veronica: she’s fine but why do you want to hit her?
Grandma: mwana wandi (my child) this friend of yours is very useless in fact “immature” is the term I should use coz her soon to be husband is in the house and wants to talk to her but she runs outside like she’s crazy
Veronica: but Ma, I still think marrying her off especially to someone she doesn’t want is unfair on her part
Grandma: unfair for what, huh? Who cares about what she thinks coz as far as I’m concerned she doesn’t even know how much a bag of mealie meal costs so tell me what’s unfair here
Veronica just kept quiet and held me while I cried then Ba Bwalya came out of the house and looked at me for quite some time then he took grandma aside and went to talk to her, I took the sleeping Jane from Veronica and put her to bed then we went to sit on a bench and she helped me calm down and assured me that she’d do everything in her power to make sure I never married him but I still felt dirty for how he touched me and he later walked away with a smirk on his face but I ignored him
Veronica: Mwelwa called today
Me: really! What did he want?
I quickly wiped off my tears since I was eager to know what her baby daddy wanted after abandoning her for 3 years
Veronica: he said he wants us to meet and talk
She just shrugged her shoulders
Me: so after rejecting his daughter for three years the prodigal son finally returns
***We laughed ***
Veronica: what do you think I should do?
Me: talk to aunt first and hear what her opinion is but I suggest that you still go ahead and hear what he has to say, maybe he wants to start a relationship with his daughter and I think you should let him coz you can’t keep Jane away from her father
Veronica: awww thanks sweetheart, I was really confused and my head was spinning you see another reason why I love you
We hugged then continued talking about different things when Mary walked by after being dropped off by a “Range Rover” with a lot of shopping bags and I knew her blesser did his work, she looked at us with a disgusted look on her face and clicked her tongue then walked away.
Veronica took her leave since it was getting late and I took her halfway then returned home to find Mary giving grandma the gifts she brought for her while she blessed her and I attempted to walk away but was stopped by grandma and she asked me to kneel in front of her, she started poking me while talking
Grandma: you’re just a waste of resources, your friends are very considerate and bring me gifts but you reject Bwalya and act like a child. You think you’ll live in this house forever? If Bwalya won’t marry you then no one will welasha we (you piece of charcoal)
I had gotten used to being called that because of my skin colour
Grandma: you won’t kill innocent souls with your filthy disease, now go and prepare supper. I need to eat
She was right, I’d never been able to stay in a relationship for long because everyone ran away after learning about my status so I gave up on trying even though it wasn’t easy. I got up and went to the kitchen with tears threatening to fall from my eyes and I heard them call me bad names while they laughed, I always felt like I was stuck in some dark room where I could never find happiness. We finally started eating when I was done with supper but I couldn’t get anything down because I felt their eyes on me and it made me uncomfortable then Mary suddenly chuckled and clapped her hands
Mary: grandma, I’ve been thinking
Grandma: what is it my baby?
Mary: can HIV be cured?
Grandma shook her head several times
Grandma: No, no, no, that’s a disease that will take one to the grave especially if they start getting thin (she looked at me) it has killed thousands of parents leaving behind millions of orphans. You’ve got it?
Mary: come on, do I look like the type to contract it?
Grandma: that’s a relief, but in case you have it you can get cured by sleeping with an Albino
Mary: that easy! It’s like the disease has gotten to some people’s brain and don’t want to get cured, I never knew there was a cure that easy
Grandma: yes or marrying someone who has it too
She smirked, that was enough to put me to bed with an empty stomach and wet pillow.
The night was the only time I had to rest and I’d always be up as early as 3, I went outside and starting making fritters which I was going to sell at the market which I also hated coz the girls would speak ill of me like I wasn’t even there, they sometimes told my customers about my status and they all turned going to the next person so there was nothing right about anything I did, my status had gotten the best of me that I now considered it as a disability. The moon shone so bright giving so much hope and I just looked at it as I got lost in thoughts…
To be continued…
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